Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: billy77 ()
Date: September 10, 2012 10:25PM

Hi Pegasus,

Thanks for writing.

Yes you can feel like you are a terrible person if you don't do the things they say. They use your own humanity against you.

It's very hard to shake some of this stuff. They get it into you on a deep level and so even though you might know some better way or desire some better thoughts or feelings, you have all their s**t that they have programmed into you. It's because they manage to get rid of your critical thinking and filtering.

The fear and guilt are pretty bad yes. I have felt them too without really understanding why. Dissociation then happens to protect us although that too can feel unpleasant.

I can't imagine what it would be like encountering one of these groups and getting into all that stuff at 18. I had an adult self that I enjoyed being but I was still finding my way in life and so it came at a bad time.

Most people won't ever have to deal with something like this. They have a self and it just works. They don't have to meddle with it. Only we have to do that because ours has been affected and broken.

These despicable organisations and groups love you to be doing all this "work" on your self all the time because it keeps you trapped in their schemes. They don't want people who have self-acceptance and who don't think they need anymore input to themselves. Of course once you come out of these places you then have to do some work on yourself or heal in some way because that part of you that might have worked very well before has been messed with.

It sounds like you are on the right track and that you understand how to deal with some of this stuff. If you can interact with people and not experience too much anxiety, then that is great. I found it hard going out dealing with people when I had such a broken mind and so really what helped was spending time alone and just coming to terms with what had happened and how I felt. I realise now looking back that I tried too much to get on with things and keep busy when really I was in a terrible state and should have just stayed at home and tried to feel stronger first.

Best Regards,


Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: pegasus ()
Date: September 14, 2012 12:26PM

I can relate about dealing with people when you dont feel right in yourself. I too have spent so much time alone, often walking on the beach trying to figure it all out. I guess what we are doing is trying to find a sense of ourselves again. I have heard people doing that a lot when they come out of groups. We are trying to come back down to earth in a way, get out of all that illusion in our head and just find a way of being that is really our own.
I found I had left the group but still had so many habits and ways of being that made it hard for me with people. Like I still acted like the cult member and acted from that kind of zombie fake peaceful happy state that made it hard to have any real connections. After all if you dont know who you are, what can you offer in a conversation with someone. I absorbed too much of the other person and felt re truamatised alot. I am still trying to find the right friends and its lonely sometimes. The cult was great in that you had a family, everyone thought the same way so it was kind of safe. Learning to be an individual and that its safe to have different opinions to others is tricky when it was forbidden to do that in the cult. Believing that you can say no to things and have different likes and dislikes is all a part of that that i am trying to figure out. You only learn by practice but I found it would be very painful often with people, like a trigger to my insecurities when things didnt go well

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: billy77 ()
Date: September 14, 2012 08:00PM

I know what you mean. It's like soul searching that we are trying to do. These groups cut you off from your soul and so they can get their stuff into your head. I think for everyone who has been majorly messed up by any such group some level of soul searching is necessary. When I first tried to get help after my bad experience the psychologists and psychiatrists gave me all this information, all this homework based on CBT. I just couldn't take any of it in as my brain was so messed up. I remember one night having a big panic attack just looking at it. I learned so much since then.

With other people it was very hard. Probably that was the most damaging thing about the whole ISA Experience. Before I had been very good with people and social interaction. Like very aware with a personality. Afterwards none of that part of me worked at all. It's like I didn't know how to interact at all, I just had to make it up and pretend but it felt horrible having no personality that I was functioning with. This was probably from breaking down my ego boundaries and unspoken rules of social behaviour in The Experience. It was all horrible. Sitting with friends was like sitting with a bunch of aliens. It was terrifying. That still persists to an extent today. It can be real lonely yes but in a way I prefer going for walks on my own than struggling in some social environment and getting nothing from it. Eventually I want to go back to social situations when I feel more comfortable.

With some people I was picking up too much of their stuff, like too many of their issues and things. I was wide open. I had some bad relationships with people who became abusers because I was in such a weakened and confused state. I had to end them and in a way I am proud of myself for that because it wasn't helping me heal. It just takes a lot of time I think to process it all and come to terms with what happened.

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: pegasus ()
Date: September 15, 2012 05:37AM

I can really relate to what you are saying. I too could not handle much at all, especially more techniques like CBT at first. perhaps it was also that my head was so full, so used to following, obeying and doing what the cult said that to follow anyone elses techniques, even good ones, was just overload. Somehow we are in a process of coming out of that false cult mindset that has taken over our psyche, unlearning or releasing it or somehow finding ourselves underneath it - whatever words best explain it...

I remember one counsellor telling me to just stop at the beach and look at a shell, just be and look around. Funnily enough now these days I find I do that more naturally, I am gradually seeing the value for me in just enjoying where I happen to be. I sense that for myself personally that is a direction that is good for me. But at the time she told me that it outraged me. I thought it was so oversimplified for one thing. For another thing I had been so programmed that we must meditate pray and serve, we must always be doing something for the cult that I felt overwhelmingly guilty to do anything that was not related to the group. To enjoy anything personally was equal to a crime for which I felt shame and guilt, even enjoying looking at nature. I felt I was letting god down becos I should be working for him not wasting time looking at nature.

So coming from this extreme mindset that I had built up over years in the cult, its clear to me now that it would not be possible to change it overnight. Its more of a gradual loosening up of the rigid mindset and being slowly influenced by new more helpful habits. Also slowly getting permission again to do what I want. But waiting for it to all change is so hard becos its easy to feel so broken and not good enough.

Also I had therapy - some of which was absolutely wonderful for me, but others in which I basically ended up in recreating the cult relationship again. I was the lesser than, child like one that did not know and needed to be fixed and the therapist was like the guru who I must please and follow. These experiences would bring up the resistance in me where I felt the therapist was wrong about something but still thought I must do what they said. It was very painful and re-traumatising. I always ended up feeling crazy when they did not get me, and that I must be wrong. Finally I learned from this with one counsellor. I told her I wanted to work on my cult issues that we still troubling me and she said why would I still be holding on to all that and just to let that go and work on other things now. I knew this was wrong. I felt the familiar crazy feeling of being wrong and misunderstood and yet this time I felt stronger. I let it go and then later cancelled the sessions with her and I was able to know in myself that she was not the right fit for me. So that whole thing was probably the real therapy for me - actual practice in knowing what was right for me and stopping the pattern of following someone else that I had been trained for in the cult.

You know what you said about the groups cutting us off from our soul really struck me. I think that is right. I have heard it called Spiritual abuse, whereby physical abuse and mental abuse we are aware of but spiritual abuse is not commonly understood. That is the abuse which extends so far into you that you no longer have your own self to call your own. without your own sense of self, how can you even function. Its a miracle really that we somehow do slowly grow and heal from this. But somehow life and time does heal and change things.

In my group, soul was a word used a lot. Unfortunately the guru would tell us that our souls were angry with us or disappointed in us and could not forgive us for our mistakes. Mistakes that were called impurities and were anything that did not suit the guru and cult line. My soul was something separate from me that I was guilty about and very fearful of the consequences. So that formed a split in me.

As I slowly have found some sense of my own knowing, my own intuition and my own feeling of what is next for me and what I want I see that I have got a connection back with my soul in a way. But trusting that knowing is another thing. For example right now I am trying to give myself permission to be happy by seeing what I want and need and then trying to take care of myself. The old cult thoughts come up - you have not done enough spiritually to be happy, to enjoy your life is lazy and you will not make any spiritual growth, you will let you soul/god down etc etc.

So I have a challenge to know what is the truth, to trust my own truth and to live by it. Its a big deal to feel safe and free enough to do that.

I also feel very open to other peoples stuff and I get very affected by it. I can get drained easily and take on all their issues. I have seemed to attract people with problems who I help and feel great empathy for but then I end up feeling resentful for them taking over and draining me. The worst thing with this is that I feel invisible. Being known and having equal friendships would be the ultimate goal but I have not achieved that yet.

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: billy77 ()
Date: September 15, 2012 08:36PM

Yes for a long time I was actually seriously afraid of any other teachings or therapies. I had so many panic attacks just engulfed in that feeling of doom when I read some of them. I had never needed anything like that before. I never read anything with the aim of changing myself or "self development". I lived with who I was, I wasn't concerned with trying to change. Of course now though I knew something was very wrong and that I needed something. It just wasn't some intellectual mind-stuff that I would have to figure out.

I guess over time, like you say, it gradually changes. So many times I tried to snap out of it and I couldn't. Like I tried to do some thing sudden that would get me back but I couldn't. They can go to hell these cults, all of them.

It sounds like you had some good therapists though along with the ones that weren't right. I had these relationships too with some of them that ended up re-creating some of the original bad stuff. It's easy in this state to still feel like we are wrong because the whole time in the cult environment they are telling you that either overtly or subtly. You get better at trusting yourself I think. But like you say it takes time. I think if you can stand on the beach or wherever and just appreciate the sea or the sunset, then that is a big step.

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: pegasus ()
Date: September 17, 2012 06:50AM

I guess because the damaging cult thoughts were imprinted in us over and over for a period of time that snapping out of it is hard. The cult beliefs have become ours. Once I finally was able to work out to a certain degree what the truth was - which took me ages and was really painful - then I set about trying to imprint the new truthful beliefs, kind of like brainwashing myself back again. I took parts from CBT ideas and many others and used affirmations to do that. That is working on the mental level of course because its on the mental level where we were afflicted. But that is only one way and only a part of what is needed I think.

And I could not do any of that for a long time. But I think I have needed to do that to free up the fear and restrictions before I could feel anything of myself. If a person is in shock, fear, traumatised then they cant feel anything so they need to be relaxed, feel safe again first. I had to tell myself and convince myself it was now safe and I am free and Ok.
I took some convincing and I am still working on that.

Im now interested in loosening my efforts on the mental level because I can see in myself the tendancy to feel I must do that work. this tendancy has underlying it the same structure as in the cult, namely that I must do something to be OK. Just to remind myself each day that there is nothing I have to do, just to do what I want should now be enough.

Im really interested in what you are saying about the soul and living from that place. To connect to my self, choose from there what to do and how to live is probably the goal here for me at this time.
What was it like in your group? I have not heard of the cult you mentioned....

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: billy77 ()
Date: September 18, 2012 09:49PM

I honestly never thought it would be so difficult. These groups really have conned people that they have to do something to be ok. It's usually because the leader had some parent who didnt unconditonally love them when they were young. So instead of facing into that they end up in charge of some nutbox group spreading their sickness onto everyone.

Maybe they aren't all like that but I feel that a lot are. Emotionally and spiritually mature people don't feel the need to try and control people and mess with their heads.

The group I was in is one of these LGATs as they are known like Landmark called The Institute For Self Actualisation. I was only there a few days but that was enough to throw me out of my natural balance and into no mans land.

I know what you mean about having to reprogram your mind. I think if you can connect to your soul it can be faster because the intelligence that is there can flow into the mind.

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: pegasus ()
Date: September 19, 2012 06:27AM

Yeah, Im sure youre right that the motivations for those leaders comes out of some dysfunctional relationships in their childhoods for the main part. When we are confident and happy in ourselves then we dont need to tell others what to do.
Thats exactly the trouble- that the cult leader tells us we have to do something to be ok. Im sure as well that many people have had childhoods themselves that were far from perfect and felt not good enough already so the cults can pick up on that common tendancy and take it to the extreme. I probably didnt feel that ok in myself to start with. But the cult took it to another level whereby I ended up sure I was not ok unless I was in the cult. Its such an extreme case. The crux of it is that knowing in yourself that you ARE ok, regardless of what you do or dont do. Once we know that I guess we are on our way to being our own person again.
I was really looking for answers - for meaning and spirituality by joining the cult and I guess for a lot of us the soul and spirituality is not something we even are aware of growing up. So I was probably looking for that missing piece of life. Only thing is that truth and spirituality got mixed up with abuse and now I have to sort those things out and separate them.
Its really a great thing that you can sense your soul and believe in it and develop your own way of knowing - thats what we really need for sure.
I know of people who have had psychotic breaks after a Landmark weekend so it is a terribly powerful form of abuse. My cult was more of a longterm more subtle approach. I remember when I joined hearing some of the beliefs and thinking, well I dont agree with that myself but as long as Im enjoying being here I will stay. If it starts to be a problem I will leave. So I still had my own self and freedom then. But a few years later those cult beliefs that were not mine, had now overridden my own so that when I disagreed with anything in the cult I would chastise myself for being 'disobedient to God' and a bad person for doubting. There was this sense that any doubt any disobedience to the cult way was something dark, impure and almost evil. So if you were the one doubting, you were somehow dark impure and evil yourself. Once you get that going its impossible.

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: billy77 ()
Date: September 20, 2012 01:08AM

Yes it must be very hard if you have been there for a few years because then it just becomes part of your everyday world and your everyday thinking.

They use basic human insecurities againist you and so you feel bad or guilty if you don't do the "right" thing. They are masters of that, all of them. The leaders of these things are never great, benevolent spirits... it's always some sick ego thing going on that everyone else has to be caught up in.

These groups need to be exposed for what they are and so anyone coming to them has some idea of what they are in for. The more I read about them and the more I look at it, I can see what they are all about and how they are working. I don't have any illusions anymore about any of them.

Maybe it just takes a lot of time to find your self and your way again. I don't imagine that anyone got over this kind of thing quickly. I think along the way, although it can be painful and difficult, you learn a lot more about people and life.

Re: Is anyone emotionally damaged
Posted by: backtosanity ()
Date: April 30, 2015 07:20AM

"Anxiety" means you are sort of antecipating something with fear, right? Fear is an illusion. Think of something good instead.

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